Open letter to the protesters at the corner

(note: i didn’t go out except to the hospital, and had to rely on what my upset friends and family reported)

Dear Protesters,

As someone who loves our American democracy, I value your right to protest. I would even fight to protect it. Still, I wish you would exercise some common decency.

Today, when you came to my neighborhood, obstructing the busiest intersection, you caused a great deal of fear and confusion. While I understand that many of you are probably upset about the war in Gaza-Israel, there is no Israeli consulate here. There is no significant Israeli population at all in fact. There are, however, thousands of Jewish families, whose homes and synagogues are immediately adjacent to your protest. When you claim to be against Israel and not Jews, your protestations seem disingenuous, given your choice to terrorize our—Jewish, not Israeli—neighborhood.

You will no doubt object to the loaded term “terrorize” but it is hard to see it otherwise. When my baby sitter, who escaped Azerbaijan with her family to come to America, sees “Death to Jews, Death to Israel”, she is scared. When my patient who survived the Holocaust is driving to Havdalah services at the synagogue sees swastikas in front of her supermarket, she is scared. When my daughter asks, “what is that?” what would you have me tell her?

“They are mad about a war, honey.”

“Where, Daddy?”

“In another country, honey.”

“Do they hate Jews, Daddy?”

“I don’t know, honey.”

When Arab Islamic terrorists attack America, I do not come to your neighborhood to blame you. When Gaza launches rockets into southern Israel, I do not come to you on behalf of my cousins there. I know that you are not Hamas. You are not terror. You are my neighbor. We are Americans. Our values, our desires are the same.

Or so I thought.

Now I don’t know.

Please, if you wish to make a statement, do so, but don’t Balkanize our community. Don’t bring foreign conflicts to my corner. Protest in front of the Israeli consulate to ask for a halt to the invasion, the bombing. Protest in front of the Egyptian consulate to ask them to open their borders to Palestinian refugees. Write to Hamas and its supporters asking it to renounce terror, and recognize its neighbors’ (not just Israel, but Fatah as well) right to exist.

But don’t come to my corner, my deli, my temple. I can’t help you. And now I don’t like you.

And that saddens me.